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Let's keep this simple, and let's not kid ourselves:

If the committee fails to reach $1.2 trillion, it will trigger an automatic across the board spending cut, half from domestic spending, half from defense spending, of $1.5 trillion. The domestic cuts come from Medicare providers, but Medicaid and Social Security would be exempted. The enforcement mechanism carves out programs that help the poor and veterans as well.

If the committee fails? As if the Republicans want it to succeed. All they have to do is to ensure that it will fail and then there will be $750,000,000,000 of domestic spending cuts.

It will get worse.

Medicare will be cut. Remember when lowering the age of Medicare was floated as a possible alternative to a public option? We got neither. And now we will get Medicare cuts.

It will get worse.

The poor will be punished. Veterans will be treated as expendable. Think about that. The enforcement mechanism doesn't cut oil industry subsidies or raise taxes on the wealthy, it cuts programs that help the poor and veterans.

([UPDATE] The wording is not clear on programs for the poor and veterans. Some reports say they will be exempt from cuts. Whether that means all of them is unclear.)

It will get worse.

Remember this, when the president told us that the tax cut extension was a good thing?

Look, here's my expectation -- and I'll take John Boehner at his word -- that nobody, Democrat or Republican, is willing to see the full faith and credit of the United States government collapse, that that would not be a good thing to happen. And so I think that there will be significant discussions about the debt limit vote. That's something that nobody ever likes to vote on. But once John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker, then he's going to have responsibilities to govern. You can't just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower.

Remember this, when Boehner walked away from the debt ceiling talks a couple weeks ago?

It's probably better for you to ask them how they're thinking. I do think that -- and I've said this before -- Speaker Boehner, in good faith, was trying to see if it was possible to get a big deal done.

And from the same transcript:

And I have to say this is tough on the Democratic side, too. Some of the things that I've talked about and said I would be willing to see happen, there are some Democrats who think that's absolutely unacceptable. And so that's where I'd have a selling job, Chuck, is trying to sell some of our party that if you are a progressive, you should be concerned about debt and deficit just as much as if you're a conservative.

As I wrote:

It was wrong on so many levels, it was shocking. First of all, the answer completely buys into the idea that we should be focusing on the deficit, just as the director of the Congressional Budget Office was underscoring that deficit reduction will hurt the economy. Which followed warnings from both Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and an earlier report by the CBO that spending cuts could undermine the economic "recovery." In other words, it's not only crazy progressives who think the focus on debt and deficits is misplaced. But even worse is that progressives have in fact been promoting responsible means of addressing the deficit. As Joan noted, Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) responded to the president with a reminder that:
The Progressive Caucus has introduced the only budget that creates a surplus by 2021 because we take seriously the need for a strong economy and manageable debt. Our budget eliminates the deficit in 10 years and creates jobs while protecting the programs our constituents rely on.

And even progressive bloggers have been promoting a plan that would eliminate the deficit, which begins by rescinding the Bush/Obama tax cuts. So the president's attempt to blame progressives was wrong on the framing and wrong on the facts. But even worse, it didn't focus on the real problem, which is that the Republicans have no credibility on deficits. The president should have said that. He should have reminded everyone that the last Democratic president balanced the budget, while the last three Republican presidents successively outdid each other in creating record deficits. And then he should have pointed out that in contrast to the Republicans, progressives have offered honest means of addressing the deficit that wouldn't undermine the "recovery" and wouldn't hurt the American people. But he didn't.

And now he's going to give the Republicans a trigger that will automatically cut Medicare and programs that help the poor and even military veterans? Because the Republicans can be trusted to do the right thing and negotiate in good faith or something?

It will get worse. And then it will get even worse. Because even after all this there will be more opportunities for the Republicans to take hostages. In political currency, taking hostages is for the Republicans as if a limitless ATM. They bank on it.

It will get worse.

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